My new book: ‘Meaningful Conversations’


I have just finished the final manuscript of my second book and sent it to my publisher. My new book is named ‘Meaning Conversations’ – I envisage that the book should be with my publisher by the end of May 2016 and published in the September timeframe.

This book has been written about some very passionate subjects in business today: Communications, Strategy and Business Development and Growth.

In February 2014 I set out as an author to write a weekly blog across a variety of subjects and foremost about people in business, opinions, research and tips, advise on some revelations, past and present.

This book demonstrates the relationship between communications (human 2 human), strategy and business development and growth. It is important to understand that a number of the ideas, developments and techniques employed at the beginning as well as the top of business can be successfully made flexible to apply.

Communications, Strategy and Business Development and Growth are essential for success and profitability in the business process.

This book provides a holistic overview of the essential leading methods of techniques. It will provide you with a hands on guide for business professionals and those in higher education.

Readers will gain insights into topical subjects, components of Communications, Strategy and Business Development and Growth, including a wide range of tips, models and techniques that will help to build strong and effective solutions in today’s business world.

The terms ‘Communications’, Strategy’ and Business Development and Growth’ have become overused during the last decade and have become devalued as a result. In this book I aim to simplify these terms and to re-value management and leadership by addressing topics and subjects in each distinctive chapter.

As Anthony Robbins once said: “The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.”

The book therefore covers all the essential components of Communications, Strategy and Business Development and Growth, but ensures that they are described in an engaging, enjoyable way with clarity.

The book is divided into three key areas to make it easy to find the material you need. Each component is easy to locate by the titles of the short story at the top of the pages. Each chapter within the three components relates strongly to each other but is also interrelated to all the other chapters. Those with interest on certain topics may wish to start at their area of interest first, while those who prefer to read the book from the first page to the end will proceed as they started, there really is a topic for everyone in the book.

Business professionals and individuals in the great challenges of today’s business world have renewed responsibility for what business does best; innovate, invest and grow. Many people wait until circumstances force change and transformation, that can be radical and painful, this book will arm you with the tips, advise and techniques to provide fresh thinking to your everyday environment and to innovate your circumstances for a better environment, we are all extraordinary people and have the ability to share and provide wealth creation and richness to our surroundings, the question is how much do we want to be extraordinary.

This book has been written not just for people in a company or organisation, it is about helping and supporting understanding across a wide variety of subjects to anyone in life; students, budding entrepreneurs, business people and aspiring individuals.

I really hope you enjoy hearing more about my book in the coming months.


Is blockchain a short-lived illusion or a real game-changer?

I attended a breakfast seminar recently organised by a very well respected law firm and their tech partner – the subject matter was: ‘Blockchain – The concept and the law’.
It was explained at the event that blockchain has a myriad potential for applications, being deployable to transfer digital rights or digitasable assets, notably currency, shares and intellectual property. However, blockchain is particularly exciting for entrepreneurs as it enables them to dispense with lawyers of cost and inefficiency that are often required in order to police trust/authenticity in high value transactions.

With all this in mind surrounding the blockchain and its applications, I decided to do my own research to fully explain ‘exactly what is blockchain’.
The UK FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) has now opened its doors to blockchain technology and banks are rapidly advancing research in this area, which is a sign of its advancement for the future.
The financial crisis has driven the rapid development of alternative financial services models, the most revolutionary being the blockchain. This technology has the potential to fundamentally reshape the financial services industry and will have a much wider impact than bitcoins alone. For example, UK-based fintech start-up firms like Everledger and Coinsilium are already utilizing blockchain technology to create a transparent, immutable, secure global ledger for trade.

A lot of financial power and expertise is being invested in developing blockchain technology and harnessing uses for distributed ledgers for the payments and banking industry. The EPC (European Payments Counsel) gathered together six experts from different sectors (a central bank, a commercial/transaction bank, fintech companies, a consultancy and a payments processing company) to discuss whether and how blockchain could become a reality.

Here are some of the key points taken from the EPC’s write-up of the live debate between six leading payments industry experts.
Six reasons why blockchain is a game-changer:
1. The increased automation and reduction of manual processes enabled by blockchain reduces costs;
2. Blockchain has the potential to create new protocols and norms, in coordination with regulators;
3. Blockchain could bypass existing marketplaces while leveraging novel distribution channels;
4. The most promising use is contracts-recording;
5. Without cooperation among PSPs, there cannot be interoperable blockchains, and they cannot be used on a large scale. PSPs must therefore collaborate to progress on blockchain, in a manner that still needs to be defined;
6. Blockchain could offer central banks the possibility of monitoring money flows in real time, controlling the transactions more accurately, and acting in real time.

The below diagram from the EPC (European Payments Counsel) shows exactly how the blockchain works:
(click to enlarge – use your ‘back-button’ to return to this page)


A number of banks, including Citigroup, Barclays, and UBS Bank, are exploring blockchain technology for cross-border payments and plan to integrate it into their existing systems. Fintech start-ups such as Ripple and HyperLedger are also developing new ways to exchange data through blockchain technology.

Bankers are rushing to exploit a clearing platform whose imbalances are (for now at least) being absorbed by unsuspecting bitcoin investors, who perhaps don’t understand the extent to which they’re funding the costs of the system, which should hardly be a surprise.

What we should really be asking is whether an uncapitalised bitcoin-backed system is likely to square itself any more efficiently or cheaply in the long-run than the system it is replacing, and more pertinently, whether the systemic implications of a funding hole being discovered in such a network are likely to be any less destabilising than those experienced in 2008?

So do we have a conclusion, can we suggest that blockchain can and/or wil not be used heavily in the future for a wide range of commercial purposes?

The technology is compelling and has the ability to streamline and disrupt a wide range of industries. However, as with all new technologies, it does not solve all existing problems and crates many of its own.

Finally, Blockchain’s potential value is much greater than payments alone. And in order for the economy to benefit from the emerging capabilities of the technology, the ability to move from concept to trial in a safe and cost-effective manner is critical.

James Smith, CEO of Elliptic recently quoted by saying:

“In the future I see a public blockchain – whether that’s Bitcoin or some other open one, which is a way of registering ownership of all sorts of assets and it’s a way of transferring ownership of those assets in a single system that can be read by all of the right people and none of the wrong people. So it becomes very simple for me to swap my dollars for your IBM shares, or your pounds for my house. Any asset that we assign a value to and want to be sure about who owns it can be registered using this technology.”

Good mental health in today’s business


A very good friend and associate was in debate with me over some horrific trends within employee illness and mental health issues within business recently, and, with this in mind and reading a report another friend sent me, I decided to do some of my own investigations into why we are getting so ill with life, relationships, work, imbalance and what is the root cause of these problems.

Flexible working practices can do more harm than good to workers because they encourage an “always on” culture that can have a heavy psychological toll, experts have warned.
Working away from the office or part-time can isolate employees from social networks and career opportunities while fostering a “grasing” instinct that keeps dangerous stress hormones at persistently high levels, they said.
Flexible working policies can also raise the risk of poor working conditions, and create resentment among colleagues, while the blurring of lines between work and home life is stressful for some people.

The findings are a blow to advocates of more sophisticated measures for enabling people to achieve a work-life balance in rich economies that tend to overwork some people while underutilising millions of others.
With an estimated 10M working days lost to work-related stress in the UK last year, finding a good balance between the demands of home and the job now dominates concerns about the impact of work on health.
Work within organisations, there has been a definitive rise in those who are regularly stressed, diagnosed as clinically depressed or suffering from mental health problems. This can show itself through emotions rising to the surface and emerging as tears or disruptive comments and behaviour. Some would say that these cases are infrequent and represent individual personal problems, unrelated to the business.

Work is a major part of our adult lives so it is no wonder that everything is stretched to breaking point when you consider what the average person has to contend with on a daily basis in a struggling economy:
• Constantly changing goal posts
• Increased targets and work but no more time or resource
• Fear of being laid off and a sense that you lack control
• Low morale and job satisfaction
• Criticism and blame culture when things go wrong
• No remuneration for hard work

According to research provided by Bupa, UK workers take an average of nine days’ sick leave each year, more than four times as many as other Western European countries. This costs UK employers about £29 billion a year in lost productivity. Reasons range from commonplace illnesses like colds and flu to chronic musculoskeletal problems, while mental health conditions are the single most widespread cause of long-term absence. Alleviate the burden of sick days with these steps to improve staff’s health.

Musculoskeletal problems
This term covers any injury, damage or disorder of the joints or tissues and can be exacerbated or caused by workplace tasks.. Problems of this nature include upper and lower limb disorders, repetitive strain injuries, osteoarthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. There are several measures you can take to reduce employees’ risk of these disorders, which include:
– make the task and workstation suitable for each worker
– introduce regular breaks to reduce the risk of repetitive injury
– if lifting heavy items is part of an employees’ job, ensure they undergo adequate training.

Mental health issues
Creating a supportive working environment for employees makes economic sense: around £2.4 billion is spent annually on employees who leave work because of a mental health problem6. Many people with mental health problems want to work, but they must feel confident that their employer supports them. If one of your employees is off sick due to a mental health issue, be sure to communicate with them regularly and have a flexible system in place that recognises their challenges and needs within the working environment.

Everyday illness
Colds and flu viruses can spread rapidly through a workplace. Encourage good hygiene with well-placed hand sanitisers, boxes of tissues and a tolerant sickness policy. Encouraging employees to take time off could actually reduce the number of days lost by illness overall. You might want to consider offering the flu vaccine to staff too, as immunising your employees against the flu is the best insurance against the virus spreading.

Food poisoning is caused by germs, toxins or chemicals in food or drink and it can be contagious. Cross-contamination is one of the most common causes of food poisoning so keep food preparation areas clean and ensure the communal fridge is cleaned weekly.

The health of a business relies on the health of its employees. Reducing staff sick days means supporting staff when they are sick, encouraging good hygiene and overseeing employees’ physical wellbeing at work. Creating a reassuring, communicative workplace where employees are happy and confident in their employer’s support can have a positive effect on absenteeism.

Here are some tips for combatting stress and work related illnesses:

Tip 1: Recognise warning signs of excessive stress at work
When you feel overwhelmed at work, you lose confidence and may become irritable or withdrawn. This can make you less productive and less effective in your job, and make the work seem less rewarding. If you ignore the warning signs of work stress, they can lead to bigger problems. Beyond interfering with job performance and satisfaction, chronic or intense stress can also lead to physical and emotional health problems.

Tip 2: Reduce job stress by taking care of yourself
When stress at work interferes with your ability to perform in your job, manage your personal life, or adversely impacts your health, it’s time to take action. Start by paying attention to your physical and emotional health. When your own needs are taken care of, you’re stronger and more resilient to stress. The better you feel, the better equipped you’ll be to manage work stress without becoming overwhelmed.
Taking care of yourself doesn’t require a total lifestyle overhaul. Even small things can lift your mood, increase your energy, and make you feel like you’re back in the driver’s seat. Take things one step at a time, and as you make more positive lifestyle choices, you’ll soon notice a reduction in your stress levels, both at home and at work.

Tip 3: Reduce job stress by prioritizing and organizing
When job and workplace stress threatens to overwhelm you, there are simple steps you can take to regain control over yourself and the situation. Your newfound ability to maintain a sense of self-control in stressful situations will often be well-received by coworkers, managers, and subordinates alike, which can lead to better relationships at work. Here are some suggestions for reducing job stress by prioritizing and organizing your responsibilities.

Tip 4: Reduce job stress by improving emotional intelligence
Even if you’re in a job where the environment has grown increasingly stressful, you can retain a large measure of self-control and self-confidence by understanding and practicing emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage and use your emotions in positive and constructive ways. When it comes to satisfaction and success at work, emotional intelligence matters just as much as intellectual ability. Emotional intelligence is about communicating with others in ways that draw people to you, overcome differences, repair wounded feelings, and defuse tension and stress.

Tip 5: Reduce job stress by breaking bad habits
Many of us make job stress worse with negative thoughts and behavior. If you can turn around these self-defeating habits, you’ll find employer-imposed stress easier to handle.

Tip 6: Learn how managers or employers can reduce job stress
It’s in a manager’s best interest to keep stress levels in the workplace to a minimum. Managers can act as positive role models, especially in times of high stress. If a respected manager can remain calm in stressful work situations, it is much easier for his or her employees to also remain calm

Final thought: ‘worrying’ is usually focused on the future on what might happen and what you will do about it. The centuries-old practice of mindfulness can help you break free of your worries by bringing your attention back to the present. In contrast to the previous techniques of challenging your anxious thoughts or postponing them to a worry period, this strategy is based on observing and then letting them go. Together, they can help you identify where your thinking is causing problems, while helping you get in touch with your emotions.

Using mindfulness meditation to stay focused on the present is a simple concept, but it takes practice to reap the benefits. At first, you’ll probably find that your mind keeps wandering back to your worries. Try not to get frustrated. Each time you draw your focus back to the present, you’re reinforcing a new mental habit that will help you break free of the negative worry cycle.

Marilu Henner once said:

“Being in control of your life and having realistic expectations about your day-to-day challenges are the keys to stress management, which is perhaps the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy and rewarding life.”

Leadership and Engagement in today’s business


If there’s one thing that is scary to many companies, it’s change. Dealing with change requires leadership at all levels if that company is to survive the turbulent wave of uncertainty and misdirection that change brings. Leading in adversity amidst constant change requires focus, commitment, and a well-tuned internal and moral compass to know which way is ‘right’

So what really motivates employees?

Let’s begin by defining engagement as the “positive emotional connection an employee has to their work and their workplace.” In short, caring about work leads to commitment and wanting to give more than is required or expected.
More than simply “satisfaction”, employee engagement is a positive emotional connection to the work they do and a “thinking connection” to the belief in the goals, purpose and mission of that work. Employees want to feel proud, feel enjoyment, feel support, but more than that, they want to believe that their work matters, that they contribute, and that it resonates their values.

One challenge leaders face is making sure their people’s voices are heard. If people feel as if opportunity eschews them then they will immediately take themselves off the playing field and the leader will lose support.
When focusing on engagement, it is important to understand who in the organisation is really ready and who may need some help moving forward. During times like these, a certain pattern of behavior sets into many organisations.
Generally, the leaders creating strategy are living in the future, concentrated on indicated trends six months out. They are looking at the next quarter’s timeframe. Workers primarily function in the present, concentrated on accomplishing the key tactics of the day to day. Many workers find it difficult to shift into the mindset of future strategy and need time to process.

As a leader, it is your job to educate the entire organisation, from top down, clearly identifying the path ahead. The challenge is to continue to move forward, with your employees feeling more than just clear and confident about the strategy and direction, but also excited and invigorated about the potential. As a leader in today’s business environment, you are in the energy business, the human energy business. You are called to build a sense of engagement, helping employees realise the growth potential for the organisation, the team, and themselves.

How can you be successful in leading an engaged organisation?

Below I have listed four key areas that can begin the process to increase your own leadership effectiveness and create a culture that works best for your organization.
1. Leading Oneself. It all starts with you. You need to lead yourself before you can lead others.
2. Leading Others: One to One. The skills you use to facilitate the individual growth of others often are regarded as foundational, such as communication skills, goal setting, and delegating.
3. Leading Teams: One to Group. In addition to one-to-one skills, leaders need to lead and inspire individuals to work effectively together and achieve results as a team.
4. Leading a Work Culture. The act of leading a work culture is distinct from the other levels.

Finally, when leaders move toward improving their observable behaviors, they have the extraordinary ability to positively influence employees to willingly become engaged. That’s a powerful investment that pays dividends not only in developing good people, but by directly affecting the organisation’s bottom line.

Sam Walton once said:

“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”

Prestige or Purpose – that is the question?


A few weeks ago I decided to watch a movie called “The Prestige” – for those of you that have not seen this EPIC film that was directed in 2006 here is a short storyline. In the end of the Nineteenth Century, in London, Robert Angier, his beloved wife Julia McCullough and Alfred Borden are friends and assistants of a magician. When Julia accidentally dies during a performance, Robert blames Alfred for her death and they become enemies. Both become famous and rival magicians, sabotaging the performances of the other on stage. When Alfred performs a successful trick, Robert becomes obsessed trying to disclose the secret of his competitor with tragic consequences.

So, at the end of the movie I could not help but think exactly what is Prestige in our now world. The Oxford dictionary has its definition as: “prestige, /prɛˈstiː(d)ʒ/, noun: prestige; widespread respect and admiration felt for someone or something on the basis of a perception of their achievements or quality.”

Chad Albrecht from the Huntsman School of Business wrote an article on productivity and prestige in business ethics research. Based on a survey that was administered to 320 business ethics scholars worldwide, the authors report a ranking of 15 business schools that are perceived to be leaders in the field of business ethics. Based on these same survey results, the authors investigated which factors may have the strongest relationship to individual publication productivity and perceptions of institutional prestige within business ethics research. The results provided several surprising findings that suggest the business ethics field may be anomalous in academe in terms of the emergence of productivity and prestige.

Efficiency at doing a certain task, in the workplace or otherwise, is strongly influenced by how motivated individuals are. Exploring new ways to motivate employees is often at the top of a company’s agenda. Traditionally identified motivators in Western economies primarily include salary and prestige, often complemented by meaning, creation, challenge, ownership and identity.

Whether in our private or professional life, every day we complete a certain amount of tasks, some of which are more or less pleasurable to do. Of course, when motivated or stimulated to do certain tasks, we often complete them faster, better and without procrastination, even when the tasks themselves are not very pleasurable. Motivation in general comes from a wide range of personal or social factors, such as financial compensation (salary), recognition by the colleagues or superiors (prestige), or satisfaction coming from personal achievements. It comes as no surprise that employers and companies are systematically seeking new ways to stimulate their employees towards being more productive and happier at the same time. In conditions of radical social and cultural changes, in particular those related to the emerging knowledge economy, enterprises are facing new challenges to motivate and retain key workforce, which is the focus factor of competitiveness in the market.


So while perceived prestige in the industry continues to be an important factor, it seems that priorities have certainly shifted in the marketplace, and people today are most concerned now with finding a workplace that suits their lifestyle and personality.

It really does not matter what is motivating you, but recognise it. It is exhausting to deny your true motivations. If you are motivated by money, growth, possessions, your family, partner and friends – that’s great. Accept it. Run with it. Maximise those desires. Work hard, get paid, do it again. When you harness your motivations, you can achieve a lot. It’s a source of energy, and gives your work purpose.

But ask the question frequently, “What’s motivating me right now?” Your motivations change on a regular basis. At some points you will be motivated by the work, and at others you will want the kudos and applause. Whatever it is, pay, prestige or process, embrace the motivation at that moment. Let it fuel your passion, your prestige may well become the motivational factor and energy behind your purpose.

Final thoughts; ‘find something more important than you are,’ philosopher Dan Dennett once said in discussing the secret of happiness, ‘and dedicate your life to it.’ But how, exactly, do we find that? Surely, it isn’t by luck. I myself am a firm believer in the power of curiosity and choice as the engine of fulfilment, but precisely how you arrive at your true calling is an intricate and highly individual dance of discovery. Still, there are certain factors and certain choices on your journey that make it easier and more worthwhile……

Matt Dillon once said:

‘Fame is part of me and my life as an actor. I enjoy the creative aspects of my life as an actor. I enjoy directing and acting as well. But the bottom line for me is not prestige and power. It’s about having an exciting, creative life.’